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Insults and boos at Emmanuel Macron: another violent rural protest in Paris marred a traditional ceremony

2024-02-24T20:52:13.026Z

Highlights: Emmanuel Macron attended the 60th anniversary of the Agricultural Hall in Paris. He had to "rub the backs" of hundreds of farmers, who would not let him inaugurate the hall. Farmers are in the midst of an agricultural survival crisis caused by the high costs of diesel, the war in Ukraine with its low cereal prices, and the threat of Mercosur. “I never saw that in my life. When we arrived, the situation was out of control,” said former head of presidential security group.


The French president was received by furious farmers at the inauguration of the Agricultural Hall. The keys to a conflict that is escalating in Europe.


The then president Jacques Chirac repeated that “no candidate can reach the Elysée Palace if he has not touched the ass of a cow in the Agricultural Hall.”

With his bonhomie and enormous appetite, he spent up to 10 hours touring the historic hall in Paris,

where French agriculture and livestock are exhibited

.

It was a mutual love between him and the rural producers, their animals, their techniques, their products, sausages, milk, beers and cheeses.

This Saturday

Emmanuel Macron

had another kind of experience, unprecedented, armored, on the 60th anniversary of the traditional salon.

He had to "rub the backs" of hundreds of farmers, who would not let him inaugurate the Agricultural Hall, in the midst of

an agricultural survival crisis

caused by the high costs of diesel, the competition produced by the war in Ukraine with its low cereal prices, the threat of Mercosur that they so detest, and “Parisian-style” ecology, all factors that have put them

on the brink of bankruptcy

and with the highest suicide rate in Europe.

The visit of the President of the Republic was marked by

tensions, whistles and violence between protesters and the police

.

But also time for debates and announcements.

It took him more than four and a half hours to cut the inauguration ribbon with the colors of France.

He only achieved it after agreeing to a debate with the peasants, who had ambushed him upon his arrival.

But a brigade of anti-riot police from the CRS and a huge police force, which included mounted police, accompanied him on his forced and tense walk through the pavilions of the hall.

The French police guard the famous Agricultural Show, in Paris, this Saturday.

Photo: Noel Smart

Chaos and clashes between protesters and police

Macron had arrived at 9 in the morning.

And at noon the Hall was still closed to the public.

The 1,500 kilo Charolais bulls, the blonde Aquitaine cows, the meat-producing beasts of Salers were nervous and the sheep were scared because

the police were repressing in Pavilion 1 with tear gas

.

Macron was accompanied by the accredited press at the Elysée.

The others could not enter, like the public, an exhibition guarded with machine guns, as if they were waiting for a terrorist attack.

Dozens of protesters forced a door

and confronted CRS riot police, both outside and inside the Agricultural Hall.

Upstairs, Macron met with unions.

Everything was chaos.

The protesters entered the Hall without being searched, before the official opening.

Among them the exasperated farmers of the Rural Coordination, the FNSEA and the Young Farmers, recognizable by their distinctive flags and green caps.

When they were looking for the President of the Republic through the corridors of that labyrinth that is the Gate of Versailles, they confronted the police, who were trying to arrest them, and they exchanged blows, batons and gas.

“I never saw that in my life.

When we arrived, the situation was out of control,” acknowledged Johann Cavallero, former head of the presidential security group and secretary of the CRS Alliance, the anti-riot police.

Riot police block the entrance to angry farmers protesting against Emmanuel Macron, at the opening of a country fair in Paris.

Photo: AP

This first day was marked by numerous sequences of

blows, pitched battles, whistles at the president, shouts and bullfights

.

“Macron Resigns,” the farmers chanted, as if they had become Yellow Vests again. The farmers had arrived with their tractors in Paris on Friday, marched through the Invalides and settled in its surroundings since the night.

But there were also positive exchanges with Macron about the crisis, coincidences and announcements.

In a context of agricultural crisis that has lasted for a month, the moment was more for social demands and economic issues than for tasting the exquisite products of the French “terroir” and its derivations.

Macron met with the unions for breakfast but the chaos prevented him from moving forward with the inauguration.

Around him, a debate began about whether to inaugurate or not, and whether to remove the president from the place “for security reasons.”

"I'm going to inaugurate. That's what I came for," Macron insisted.

The president said he was not fooled by some of the rioters: "I'm not a six-week-old rabbit, I know where they live," he declared, when asked about the possibility that the National Rally, Le Pen's new party, He would have taken advantage of the protest. Implicitly, rural coordination was targeted.

French farmers clash with security agents inside the Agricultural Show in Paris.

Photo: AP

THE DEBATE

When no one expected him, Macron in a shirt, with a bunch of white paper in his hand, leaning on a bar table, invited his countrymen adversaries to debate.

The atmosphere was like in the Whitepoll factory in Amiens, when he showed up in the middle of the strike, in the middle of the election campaign. As then, Marine Le Pen was the Ghost of the Riots.

He took off his jacket, rolled up his white shirt, and Macron began to do what he does best: debate.

Persuade, respond, provoke, refute and finally, propose to the angry countrymen.

French farmers went from fury to a certain hope. The state will accompany them, bureaucracy will be limited, permits will be accelerated.

"We are here to talk," said the head of state, surrounded by his ministers Marc Fesneau and Agnès Pannier-Runacher.

For two hours, leaning on a high bar table, the president collected the complaints of the farmers grouped around him, each one with a distinctive sign of their union organization: yellow hats, green or red caps.

Closed mirrors that "do not exist", income, Ukrainian competition, organic farming, agricultural welfare, simplification of regulations.

Probably one of the most moving moments was when the suicide rate in the profession was brought to the table.

Then a farmer told the president that he “almost took this action” in August. “We do a lot for animal welfare, but what are we doing for farmers' welfare?” asked one farmer.

In 2010, the dairy farming industry had an excess suicide mortality of 52%, as already observed in its 2016 Santé Publique France study.

During these talks with the unions, Emmanuel Macron agreed to meet with representatives within three weeks of the Salon, which will last until March 3.

The president reiterated that the Government had made 62 commitments in response to the movement, which broke out on January 18. He made several announcements, including the creation of a "minimum price" to better pay farmers.

Also announced was a census of agricultural holdings in need of emergency cash flow assistance, and the inclusion in the law that agriculture and food are "an important general interest of the French nation."

Various proposals have also been floated to lower standards.

The Agricultural Show, a traditional event in Paris.

Photo: Noel Smart

The delayed inauguration

More than four hours late, Macron finally opened the Hall.

After urging the unions to calm their bases, the head of state chose to maintain his visit and inaugurate this 60th edition.

Amid strident whistles, boos, "Macron's resignation" and some middle fingers, the president, surrounded by his Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, Marc Fesneau, and the Minister Delegate, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, cut the ribbon.

Despite the tension, the head of state decided to maintain his walk through the halls of the Hall behind a huge security cordon.

Macron sampled honey from the Pays d'Auge and cheese from Haute-Savoie, shook hands and answered questions, appearing almost unfazed, but his voice regularly obscured by the din.

The initial program of this walk was completely altered by

unprecedented chaos

.

"Agriculture deserves better than the project of decadence and stupidity that consists of explaining to people that the solution would be to leave Europe," protested the President of the Republic before the farmers and the press.

A little further away, the stand of Lactalis, the world's number one in dairy products accused of underpaying for milk, was the target of a manure spill, from which a brown liquid was released.

Testimonies from the field

Wearing his classic green militant cap, Monsieur Robinet manages with his brother a 60-hectare farm near the Chartres cereal factory.

He produces wheat, rapeseed, potatoes and beets and participated in the protests.

“Before we could all make a living from this.

Today my brother has nothing to live on.

He earns less than a French minimum wage.

"Competition with the low prices of Ukraine, the administrative blockade generated by the bureaucratic decisions of the French State, the caricature ecology, which eliminates glyphosates but the State does not investigate how to replace them, is leading us to bankruptcy," he complained.

"Ecology is designed by people who have never seen wheat. Their policy is cartoonish and harmful. We must accompany the transition but with the help of the State. And Mercosur is just an example. We are going to import poor quality, without sanitary rules and "Everyone will end up sick," explains this farmer and at the same time an accountant. Now

three times more surface area is needed to make

the farm inherited from his father profitable.

Naya Morin is a producer of Rouges de L'oest sheep in department 64. She proudly shows her

pedigree

, how they chew perfectly from right to left, the quality demonstrated by their wrinkles and the redness of their head.

Each one costs 800 euros.

“No one respects our sacrifice, the quality of production, the contribution to France.

We face Mercosur because what is coming will not have quality

, nor the same health regulations as France.

And Macron had better keep quiet.

“I refrain from saying what I think about him,” he told

Clarín

.

It was 7 in the afternoon.

The Agricultural Hall closed and President Emmanuel Macron was still there, since the morning, persuading, listening and explaining his policy to get out of the agricultural crisis.

C.B.

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2024-02-24

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